Reconciliation/Off the Grid

I leave tonight to go to Jackson, Mississippi to be with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) board of directors for their new project: Emerging Leader’s Initiative. Yes, that’s a mouthful. But it’s also an awesome opportunity as I was one of only a few hand-picked young leaders throughout the country to be involved with some of the heavy-hitters of urban life and ministry:

John Perkins
Wayne Gordon
Ray Bakke
Bob Lupton
Shane Claiborne
Among many others…

CCDA’s structure is based off of Dr. John Perkins 3Rs: Relocation (move into the neighborhood), Reconciliation (level the disconnect) and Redistribution (raise up new indigenous leadership). And those are all things that I take very seriously in my life, and try to model each day.

With this in mind I want to leave us with some words on Reconciliation from Dr. Perkins from his book, With Justice For All. I truly look forward to spending the next four days with these proven leaders—leaders who created a movement that has sustained the test of time. Something I can only hope God continues to foster through The Marin Foundation.

The only purpose of the gospel is to reconcile people to God and to each other. A gospel that doesn’t reconcile is not a Christian gospel at all. But in America it seems as if we don’t believe that. We don’t really believe that the proof of our discipleship is that we love one another (see John 13:35)…

To be reconciled to each other, then, we must bear the burdens created by each other’s pasts. And to be reconcilers in the world, to bring others together, we must bear the burdens of both the parties we seek to reconcile…

We must be reconciled to both God and man. The gospel’s first work is to reconcile us to God (2 Cor. 5:18), then, if our relationship with God is right, it will show up in our relationships with each other (1 John 4:20). For my worship to be acceptable to God, I must be reconciled to my brother (Matthew 5:23-24). To be reconciled to my brother I must first be reconciled to God; to remain reconciled to God I must be reconciled to my brother. I cannot have one without the other…

If the purpose of the gospel is to reconcile us to God and to our fellowman, if your mission is to be God’s ambassadors of reconciliation (see 2 Cor. 5:20), how do we fulfill that mission? It’s tempting for us to start out with a list of things to do. But that is not how the world of reconciliation begins. Before we can do the world of God, we must be the people of God—the believing fellowship, the Body of Christ. We cannot achieve Christ’s mission each working alone; we must work as a Body, each one exercising their spiritual gifts as a part of the whole. The believing fellowship must be a living demonstration of the love that God gives us for one another. Our invitation to others then becomes, “Come join us in this fellowship which we have with each other and with God” (see 1 John 1:3). Before we can invite others to join our fellowship, we must have a fellowship. So before we can do the work of the church, we must be the church.

To do the work of reconciliation, then, we must begin by being a reconciled fellowship, by being the Body of Christ. We must model the kind of relationships into which we want to invite others. Our love for each other gives credibility and power to our witness. We must begin by being. Being, though, is not complete until it results in doing. As James says, “Faith, if it has no works, it’s dead”. A faith that doesn’t express itself in works is not a true faith. Now that’s good, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough to just be a reconciled fellowship, though that is where we have to start. We must be a reconciled fellowship on a mission. And our mission is to bring others into fellowship with God and with us.

And many of the people in the Christian community movement seem to lack this vision. They love each other, yet they lack this drive to take the gospel to unbelievers, inviting them to join the fellowship… (excerpts from pp. 116-146).

The problem with the culture war that is GLBT vs. conservative Christianity, is that the word reconciliation has become distorted to mean something it is not. I’ll leave it there as I will be expanding on this, and other lingual distortions (and how to fix them) within the culture war starting next week.

Much love.
www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I love Dr. Perkins. He really knows about suffering & reconciliation.
    When either Reagan or Bush I appointed him to some committee on hunger, I was happy b/c I knew that his mom died of malnutrition when he was a baby, so he knew firsthand.
    Then the media goes & criticizes the committee! If only they knew what humble royalty was on that committee.
    You will be with giants this week, not because they are so well known to the world, but b/c they are so humble & well-known to the Lord.

  • D.J. Free!

    hey dude, you back yet? how was the conference? i hope it went well!

    i was just writing b/c i saw that your book made Relevant Magazine’s summer ’09 reading list! very cool! i’m hearing lots of good things about your book from all over the place.

    lata,
    dj

  • Timothy Wright

    Hi,I an interested in reading you book, but before I release a few bucks, I need to know one thing. Do you take a theological position on the GLBT issue? If so what is it?I have many friends who have left their homosexual orientations, cross dressing, midget wrestling, etccc, you name it, they have left it.It may appear that I am being black & white on this issue, I am.ThanksTimI would encourage you to check out this Video on being post gay, very insightful.http://www.vimeo.com/2186136

  • Andrew Marin

    Tim – thanks for your question. I think that part of the vision that the Lord has given me refelcts the ability for His followers to 'elevate the conversation' which I define as 'changing the conversation'. I talk significantly about this concept in the last chapter of my book (abounding on Jesus' countercultural model throughout the Gospels in how to repsond to close-ended, yes or no questions). So to save myself from rewriting 20 or so pages I'll leave you with this:You ask me a black and white question, expecting a black and white answer because you already have your version of the answer concretely cemented in your own head. In essence what you are doing is nothing more than trying to find the quickest way to figure out if I'm on your team, or the other team. I think the broader question you're missing is, "What perpetuates the culture war more than an 'us vs. them' mindset?" Nothing. Asking and answering close-ended questions with one word close-ended answers only fuels the fire of furthering the disconnect between the GLBT community and conservative Christianity because there is no room, space or availability to honestly and openly move forward in life-giving, trusting relationships, thus, not making any headway to continue to peacefully and productively build bridges within the GLBT community and with each other. In other words, knowing what it is to do something significant for the Kingdom within an established system of culture war between the two.Solely based on your question, I would say that releasing a few bucks towards Love is an Orientation would be money well spent.I am not invalidating someone's experiences as legitimate to them as an ex-gay, but I am neither invaldiating the opposite end as a gay Christian. It's not free will without the ability to go in the other direction – and far be it for me or for anyone else to delegitamize someone's current place or the system that Lord put forth. As my favorite quote goes (by Billy Graham): "It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love." That's what I call Kingdom Job Descriptions.I recently wrote a series of posts on the deconstruction of the difference between validation and affirmation…those might be helpful in your research to read my book or not.Much love.

  • Timothy Wright

    Hi,Thanks for your response. I wasn't able to find those articles on validation and affirmation. Where are they? It would be helpful for me.In your book do you articulate your opinion on homosexual practice? As for the issue of being black and white, we all are black and white, it just depends on the issue, whether we share that opinion or not.I work with university students in England and my desire is for every person that I meet, is for them to repent and come to Jesus. Change their mind with how they see their reality and embrace his Kingdom and forsake theirs. For this to take place I have to have a Black and White position. I am closed on the issue is Jesus Lord? If I did not believe this I would not talk to anyone. I share the love of Jesus with the hope that all people will follow Jesus. I know they have a free will. The ones who do not follow Jesus are out of the Kingdom. Otherwise why try to bring them?Maybe you would not like to think that and that is being too black and white. Maybe you believe everyone is already in the Kingdom, I don't know. I never get the dialogue part without having different opinions, usually diametric. I have never been to a public discussion where both people held the same position. Would you ever publicly express yourself on any issue, or is it just this issue? I totally agree it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and ours to love, though if my friend asked me should he stop embezzling money from his company, I would say yes instead of asking him to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him in his decision. Looking forward to your response and to read your articles.Tim

  • Timothy Wright

    Hi Andrew, If I could leave up a follow up comment to my last one. http://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/1010/The point of trying to persuade that people are going in the opposite direction of the gospel with their thoughts and actions. I came across this on the Comment magazine website:"1 Corinthians 9:19-23: "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."The apostle Paul, and God speaking through him, could not be clearer. To become a servant of all—for the sake of their conversion—is at the heart of kingdom living. Indeed it is of the essence of gospel compassion for the lost to predicate our activities on their conversion."With you for Him!Tim

  • Jon Trouten
  • Jon Trouten
  • Timothy Wright

    Hi,

    Thanks John, Appreciate it.

    Tim

  • Timothy Wright

    Hi,

    If I am a bother to you on this, let me and I will stop and leave you be. These discussions are fascinating. I have read the articles that have been kindly pointed to me by Jon.

    I want to get some clarification between Affirmation and Validation.

    If someone was to come to me that I have no context for and as we got to know each other, this person revealed that they were a sexually active person of the same sex. I would validate that what they were experiencing was real as compared to ? Not real, imaginary, ?

    And Validation is to confirm.

    And when this person asks me what I believe I say what in this dialogue?

    If I say what I believe the conversation may be over and at least we have communicated, we understand each other of we take the time to go a bit deeper in our respective insights?

    Would you agree that if a person said that they were involved in beastiality or we would also involve the same process of affirmation and validation? If so, why? If not, why not?

    Tim

  • Timothy Wright

    Hi Andrew,

    Hope your talk in the Gay pub went well.

    I was wondering if your still up to talk about some of the questions that I have or you want me to leave or ask you different questions in different ways?

    Tim

  • Andrew Marin

    Hi Tim!!!! You are NO BOTHER AT ALL! So sorry for the long delay in getting back to this discussion – my schedule has been quite overbearing and I'm trying to sleep as much as I can when I have the opportunity (that tends to cut down on the blogging and comments). But I would love to continue this dialogue. So here are my new thoughts to your recent comment:Validation is to confirm, yes. And if someone was coming to you in beastiality, yes, validating (or confirming) their current situation as legitimate to their expreince leading them to their current place is, in my mind, totally ok and something that needs to be justified. It's just living out the come-as-you-are-culture that we believers are to be, meeting people where they're at. I think the part that many Christian folks tend to get this all mixed up is because Church Culture says if someone validates anything that automatically assumes they "affirm" whatever the validation might entail. That general presupposition is not correct as validation and affirmation are two totally independent constructs – like Church and State. And just like Church and State, believers like to legistlate morality and legality at the same time in one big swoop wihtout thinking of the consequences of what would happen if the tables were turned. That is a little off topic though…sorry. Does this help any? Follow-up questions…?Thanks for hanging in there with me!

  • Jon Trouten

    Not wanting to derail, but why do people too often bring up bestiality (or child molestation) when discussing gay people or our relationships? It’s a total “gotcha” argument, implying that you can’t not affirm one if you affirm the other.

    I mean, it’s not like there’s any effort to legitimize or legalize bestiality. It’s not like bestiality and homosexuality are natural extensions of each other.

    If people are truly concerned about bestiality, why wait to bring it up in the context of a discussion about homosexuality? Why not broach concern about bestiality on its own merit, unconnected to a discussion about gay people, relationships, or families?

  • Jon Trouten

    Looked at another way, if somebody were to approach me as a gay married man and offered me help me grow closer to the church and to Christ and then that person began making hypothetical comparisons about having sex with cows or whatever, the discussion would be over. I would be totally closed to any future communication with that person.

  • Timothy Wright

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I believe I understand you points on affirmation and validation. My question was asked in that way to see if this was the way you approached all dialogue or just the issue of homosexual practice.

    Did you take a look at the video on Post Gay? Curious about your insights?

    &&&

    Jon,

    I hope I explained myself clearly about making a comparison with homosexuality with bestiality. Please forgive me if I offended you, that was not my attention.

    I come across some Christians with the hope of building bridges with the Homosexual community to the point of lacking consistent integrity across the spectrum of practices that I believe the Bible is clear on.

    Would you dialogue or do you dialogue with people like me who would affirm the reality of your homosexual practice without validating your practices?

    My best friend in college in the USA wrestled with his homosexual orientation and he knew my values and it never got in the way of our friendship.

    But some of the people who I had close ties and relationships who were involved in homosexual practice wanted nothing to do to me when I became a Christian.

    I live in a small city in the northwest of England and there is a total lack of opportunity to dialogue with "the gay community". There is a club that is gay only in town one night a week for 5 hours and you have to prove that your gay to get in to the club during those hours, because of the open violence toward them in this community.

    So this question about dialogue for me is not possible, I do not know one person who is involved in Homosexual practice to even have a dialogue. I wish this wasn't true, but I would no longer intentionally look for a relationship with someone from the Gay community as the Black community. I seek friends, period.

    Peace

    Tim

  • Jon Trouten

    Timothy: I talk with and interact with people all the time who have problems with me, my husband, and our kids. There's definitely tension over my family with my parents, siblings, and other family members. I'm actually quite fond of some of these various folks.

    I also live in a small city in Iowa. You might be surprised what resources exist besides your one club. My own community has a bar, but it also has both a men's and women's social group, a GLBT gardening club, a gay & lesbian parenting group, various religious groups, etc… It might be worth researching if this is something you're interested in exploring.

  • Jon Trouten

    Timothy: I talk with and interact with people all the time who have problems with me, my husband, and our kids. There's definitely tension over my family with my parents, siblings, and other family members. I'm actually quite fond of some of these various folks.

    I also live in a small city in Iowa. You might be surprised what resources exist besides your one club. My own community has a bar, but it also has both a men's and women's social group, a GLBT gardening club, a gay & lesbian parenting group, various religious groups, etc… It might be worth researching if this is something you're interested in exploring.


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